Coroner warns motorists not to drive while tired after fatal A47 crash

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong has issued a warning to motorists not to drive while tired after a Norwich dentist died in a crash on the A47, having not slept the night before.

A Toyota Yaris being driven by Vrushali Patil, 34, of Greenways, Eaton, veered across the A47 and crashed into a Volkswagen camper van, a Norwich inquest heard yesterday.

The other driver, Michael Brooker, from Leicester, also died following the crash on May 3. Mrs Patil, who was returning to Norwich after working at a dental surgery in Swaffham, had not slept the night before after returning from a trip to France.

On her return to Britain, she had dropped her husband off at Stansted Airport for his flight to Glasgow, before going on to complete a full day's work.

While driving home at about 5.15pm the same day, Mrs Patil's car veered across the road and hit a Volkswagen camper van.

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Both drivers died as a result of the crash.

Mr Armstrong said: 'I have a duty to send out a strong message and warn that people must not drive on the road when tired. There is research by the government that says tiredness is a factor in 20pc of RTCs (road traffic collisions).

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'The message must be if people feel tired, they must not drive. Driving while tired is dangerous and irresponsible, and can be fatal.'

Mr Brooker, 66, from Helena Crescent, Leicester, was driving back to his home after a holiday in Potter Heigham with his wife Tracy and their 13-year-old son Josh, in their camper van.

Mark Milner, who was driving behind Mrs Patil on the A47 at East Tuddenham, said: 'We weren't driving more than 50mph and the weather was good.

'Suddenly, [Mrs Patil's] car veered and went straight towards the camper van. The brake lights did not go on.'

Mrs Patil's Toyota Yaris struck the camper van, forcing it on to the verge.

Paramedics were unable to save Mr Brooker and he died at the scene. Mrs Patil was taken to hospital and died in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cam-bridge, on May 16.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mrs Patil died from traumatic brain injuries and Mr Brooker from multiple bone injuries.

Mr and Mrs Patil moved to the UK from India in 2003.

The inquest heard that the day before the crash, Mrs Patil had been on a trip to Paris with her husband Charak, her mother and seven-year-old daughter. They drove to Ilford and parked their car before getting a coach to France.

Upon their return, Mr Patil drove the car from Ilford to Stansted Airport at around 3.40am before catching a plane to Glasgow where he worked.

Mrs Patil then drove from Stansted back to Norwich, arriving at their home in Eaton around 5am.

Laraine Buckingham, a dental nurse who had worked with Mrs Patil at John Holmes Dental Surgery, in Swaffham, for about 18 months, said she was aware that the family had been abroad the day before.

Mrs Buckingham said: 'Vrushali said she had got home at about 5am. She told me that she was very, very tired and had not been to bed.

'She said she did her washing when she got home and had not been to bed. She asked me not to tell anybody else.Her work was just as good as ever. In the afternoon she said she was still feeling tired.'

Her last patient at 4.30pm did not show up for their appointment and Mrs Patil left work early at around 4.40pm.

Mrs Buckingham said: 'She was lovely and bubbly. She cared about people. She would do anything for anyone. She was well thought of as a dentist.'

Mr Brooker's wife Tracy told the inquest: 'Mick was a larger-than-life character. He was a doting dad, husband and grandad.'

Mr Armstrong said: 'There were no mechanical defects with the cars. There was no question of drink being involved.

'By her own admission she [Mrs Patil] hadn't slept for some time and had done a full day's work. It is very likely, almost certain, that she had become very tired and either fell asleep or lost concentration which made her incapable of maintaining her vehicle on the road.'

'Mick tried to move to avoid a collision. There is no way he could have avoided the collision.'

The coroner recorded a verdict of death as a result of a road traffic collision. He expressed his sympathy to both families involved.

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